Here Are The 555 Times Michael Bay Has Used Product Placement — Watch
You’re going to need to sit down for this one.
The supercut geniuses over at ScreenCrush have debuted their latest compilation, “Every Single Product Placement in the Films of Michael Bay,” and it’s 11 minutes of non-stop Bayhem that proves this madman never met an action scene, dialogue scene or establishing shot he couldn’t cram product placement into.
Read More: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Review: Here’s the Most Ridiculous Hollywood Movie of the Year
The video arrives on the opening weekend of Bay’s latest CGI extravaganza, “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Critics have already hailed the film as the most ridiculous movie of the year, and because this latest outing is not included in the video below, it’s safe to say the product placement total has most likely skyrocketed above 600.
For now, you can watch all 555 instances of Michael Bay product placement in the video below. »
- Zack Sharf
Edgar Wright Reveals Why He Exited ‘Ant-Man’
There are three things I can tell you before you going to see “Baby Driver” next weekend: believe the hype; Edgar Wright directs the shit out of it; and don’t watch the trailers. While it’s not a comeback movie for Wright, it is a massive bounce back after a very public exit from Marvel‘s “Ant-Man.” However, it’s clear the filmmaker didn’t lose any his vibrant filmmaking voice in the process, and in fact, “Baby Driver” proves his skills have never been sharper.
- Kevin Jagernauth
‘Dunkirk’: 9 Things You Need to Know About Christopher Nolan’s WWII Blockbuster
Christopher Nolan is set to return to theaters July 21 with his highly anticipated WWII blockbuster “Dunkirk,” and anticipation is reaching a fever pitch with under a month to go. The movie, which recounts the Dunkirk evacuation, stars Tom Hardy, Fionn Whitehead, Cillian Murphy and Kenneth Branagh, among others.
Nolan is a filmmaker well known for his secrecy regarding new projects, and while we still don’t know a lot about “Dunkirk,” the director has teased the movie a bunch in interviews over the last several months.
IndieWire has rounded up all the most important, need-to-know facts about “Dunkirk” below. Make sure you know these 9 things before buying your ticket to Nolan’s latest summer blockbuster.
1. It’s the Shortest Feature Nolan Has Made Since His Debut
Warner Brothers has confirmed that “Dunkirk” will only run one hour and 47 minutes, including end credits, making the WWII epic the shortest movie of Nolan’s career since his feature debut, “The Following” (one hour and nine minutes). Only two other Nolan movies have run under two hours: “Memento” (one hour and 53 minutes) and “Insomnia” (one hour and 58 minutes).
All of the director’s big Hollywood blockbusters have clocked in over the 120 minute mark. His last outing, the space odyssey “Interstellar,” was his longest movie ever at two hours and 49 minutes. Each film in “The Dark Knight” trilogy ran over two hours and 20 minutes, while “Inception” clocked in at two hours and 28 minutes.
Length has never been an issue when it comes to Nolan and the box office, though the shorter “Dunkirk” runtime suggests a much tighter narrative, despite what could be a very sprawling setting.
2. It’s Set During World War II But It’s Not A War Film
Despite the movie’s WWII setting — the Dunkirk evacuation took place during the Battle of France — Nolan has gone on record multiple times declaring that “Dunkirk” is not a war film, but rather a suspense movie.
“It’s a survival story and first and foremost a suspense film,” Nolan told the Associated Press earlier this year. “While there is a high level of intensity to it, it does not necessarily concern itself with the bloody aspects of combat, which have been so well done in so many films. We were really trying to take a different approach and achieve intensity in a different way.”
The film has received a PG-13 rating from the MPAA, which threw a curveball to some fans hoping a Nolan war film would be earn an R rating. Nolan’s focus on suspense over bloodshed is no doubt the reason why.
3. The Film Tells Three Different Stories Simultaneously (Even Though They All Take Place At Different Times)
It wouldn’t be a Christopher Nolan movie without an ambitious leap of storytelling, so here is where things get very, very Nolan. When the director announced he was making a WWII feature, most fans were left wondering what Nolan was going to bring to the war genre, and he teased his narrative risk with Premiere magazine back in February.
“The film is told from three points of view: The air (planes), the land (on the beach) and the sea (the evacuation by the navy),” he said. “For the soldiers embarked in the conflict, the events took place on different temporalities. On land, some stayed one week stuck on the beach. On the water, the events lasted a maximum day; And if you were flying to Dunkirk, the British spitfires would carry an hour of fuel.”
What Nolan is essentially telling us is that the story threads of “Dunkirk” don’t all match up on the same time frame. So how exactly is he planning to tell three different stories that take place over different durations of time?
“To mingle these different versions of history, one had to mix the temporal strata,” Nolan said. “Hence the complicated structure; Even if the story, once again, is very simple.”
Expect a lot of the success of “Dunkirk” to be riding on just how exactly Nolan cracked the time challenges facing the narrative.
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- Zack Sharf
‘This Is Us’: Mandy Moore Was “Sacred S**tless” About Playing Her Character 30 Years Older [Emmy Interview]
Mandy Moore has made a statement. No, she hasn’t given a political speech or stood up at protest rally (although she is vocal in those areas). Moore made a statement with her impressive performance as Rebecca Pearson in Dan Fogelman‘s breakout NBC drama “This Is Us.”
As Rebecca, Moore not only plays her character in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but as a sixtysomething grandmother in modern day.
- Gregory Ellwood
Jean-Claude Van Damme Wanted More Kickboxing In ‘Predator’
Believe it or not, 1987’s “Predator” could have been even more badass. Seriously, even with the already macho team-up of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, and Jesse Ventura, there actually was going to be one more person that would have made it even better – Jean-Claude Van Damme. That’s right, Jcvd was actually originally cast as the Predator.
- Charles Dean
Mark Wahlberg Doesn’t Think Michael Bay Is Going To Quit ‘Transformers’
In the past week both Mark Wahlberg and Michael Bay announced that after this weekend’s “Transformers: The Last Knight,” they were both done with the franchise. However, when it comes to the director, we’ve heard this before. After the past couple of “Transformers” movies, Bay had said he was done smashing robots together, only to come back and do it again. And if you don’t think he’ll quit the toy franchise, you’re not alone.
- Kevin Jagernauth
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: 40 Photos That Capture the Show’s Unique Cinematography
“The Handmaid’s Tale” presented a unique production challenge for cinematographer Colin Watkinson and Reed Morano, an executive producer and director of the first three episodes. The show takes place in a near-future Gilead, where enslaved women forced to reproduce for the aristocracy wear costumes that reference a puritanical time — but the show isn’t a period piece. They needed to create a world that was “other” and could serve as sharp contrast to present-day flashbacks. To read more about how they created the show’s unique look, click here.
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- Chris O'Falt
‘Star Wars’: Don’t Get Mad at Kathleen Kennedy For That Han Solo Shake-Up
Girl Talk is a weekly look at women in film — past, present, and future.
When the “Star Wars” universe imploded earlier this week with the surprising news that Han Solo standalone filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller were leaving the project after completing nearly 75% of principal photography, initial reports immediately fixated on the most likely culprit for the split: disagreements with Lucasfilm head and “Star Wars” super-producer Kathleen Kennedy. While it seems unlikely that the “real” story of what went down behind the scenes — a true “three sides to every story” situation, as producer Robert Evans was fond of saying — will ever come out, Kennedy is at the center of reports about wild demands and on-set clashes.
One thing is clear, however — whatever Lord and Miller were envisioning for their “Star Wars” debut is not what Kennedy had in mind, and while we’re still mourning the “Star Wars” film that will never be, the veteran producer deserves all of the respect that goes with her decision. She’s the one in charge of maintaining the “Star Wars” legacy, and with good reason.
As the head of a massive studio and a high-powered producer with a slew of huge credits under her belt (“Indiana Jones” to “Star Wars,” “Lincoln” to “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” and that’s only scraping the top of a stuffed resume), Kennedy is in a rarefied position. That she’s a woman is even more unique, a gate-crasher who has earned her stripes over decades in the business, only to emerge as the principal brain behind the world’s biggest franchise.
Kennedy first entered the entertainment world in a roundabout way, infamously serving as director John Milius’ assistant after she graduated college and putting in some serious time producing a small local TV talk show in her native Northern California. At the time, Milius was producing Steven Spielberg’s “1941,” and Spielberg soon poached her to be his own secretary, a job she was apparently not great at (as it turns out, she couldn’t really type).
But from the start, Kennedy had a lot of compelling ideas, and Spielberg eventually brought her on as a producer. Just two years after their initial introduction, Kennedy co-founded Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment alongside her future husband Frank Marshall. Kennedy’s intelligence was remarkable, and so were her leadership skills, and she was soon named president of Amblin.
Plenty more big gigs followed, including the launching of The Kennedy/Marshall Company with her husband, big-time producing credits on a number of films (a number of which were directed by Spielberg), and her eventual role as co-chair of Lucasfilm alongside George Lucas. Kennedy’s track record is awe-inspiring, including over 92 film and television credits (an intriguing mix of blockbusters and prestige pictures) and eight Oscar nominations for Best Picture. In terms of pure money-making power alone, she’s behind only Spielberg and Marvel mastermind Stan Lee for domestic box office take (nearly $7 billion as of this writing).
After Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, she became both president and brand manager. If it’s “Star Wars,” it goes through her. The homogenization of franchise films is certainly an issue in an industry increasingly interested in churning out tentpoles, but a dedication to cohesion and a larger sense of story are essential elements for such wide-ranging series. That’s what Kennedy is tasked with overseeing, and it’s not always easy.
The Han Solo situation remains a weird outlier in an industry that has seen plenty of strange stuff go down; Kennedy and her cohorts are in mostly uncharted waters, though a similar situation did unspool over at Marvel in 2015. When Edgar Wright left his long-gestating “Ant-Man” after nearly a decade of work on the project, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige was believed to have balked at Wright’s burgeoning vision, one that didn’t align with the larger aims of the McU. As with Lord and Miller, Wright left the project due to “creative differences.”
Feige later explained to The Guardian why he made that tough choice: “We sat round a table and we realized it was not working. A part of me wishes we could have figured that out in the eight years we were working on it. But better for us and for Edgar that we figure it out then, and not move it through production.” Feige’s choice was hard enough; Kennedy is almost unfathomable.
As IndieWire’s Anne Thompson noted earlier this week, “Kennedy’s purpose is to stay on course — as Kevin Feige does with Marvel — and keep the ‘Star Wars’ universe humming and intact as it spins into many orbits. She can take responsibility for miscasting in this case, because Lord and Miller are who they are and, once hired, should be able to do what they do.”
She has excelled at that, and while the Lord and Miller exit seems indicative of major behind-the-scenes drama, it may actually point in the opposite direction: that Kennedy is so compelled to do right by the brand that she’ll make a huge change in order to reach the necessary end goal.
Kennedy does still have plenty to learn about navigating the ever-changing waters of franchise filmmaking, in ways that extend beyond whatever led to the Han Solo fallout.
In November of last year, she drew ire over comments about the lack of women directors on “Star Wars” projects. Kennedy explained that, while finding a female director for a “Star Wars” film was a priority, they just hadn’t found someone with the right level of experience just yet — seemingly forgetting how many male directors they’ve employed who also haven’t come to the table with built-in blockbuster credits. At the time, Kennedy said, “We want to make sure that when we bring a female director in to do ‘Star Wars,’ they’re set up for success. They’re gigantic films, and you can’t come into them with essentially no experience.”
Later, she attempted to clarify her comments, responding to a question at the “Rogue One” press conference. “That quote was taken out of context,” she said. “As you can imagine, I have every intention of giving somebody an opportunity. So, if somebody actually moves through the process of making movies and wants to make a ‘Star Wars’ movie, and shows that they have actually stepped into the role on that level, of course we’re going to consider a woman. That goes without saying.” Kennedy’s criteria for a “Star Wars” filmmaker still seemed dead-set on only pursuing filmmakers who meet a criteria that sounds reliant on resume credits over passion and skill.
But Kennedy has both — an enviable track record and an obvious affection for the massive series she’s in charge of shepherding through impossible decisions. She’s already installed Ron Howard as the film’s finishing director, and every press release has insisted that the film will come out on time. Will it be worth it? We’ll have to see, but it’s clear that Kennedy will be front and center for whatever the final product looks like. After all, it’s her franchise.
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- Kate Erbland
‘The Leftovers’: The Best Shots of the Final Season, Chosen by Director Mimi Leder
To get that one perfect shot, sometimes you have to go the extra mile. And if you’re Mimi Leder, who directed more episodes of “The Leftovers” than anyone else, you need your actors to trust you… with their life.
“I was terrified, but I was also mesmerized,” Leder said, remembering — with a laugh — shooting the scene where Justin Theroux put a plastic bag over his head and suffocated himself. “‘How long can I hold this before I kill Justin Theroux?’ And then I thought, ‘No, I don’t want to kill him. I love him too much.'”
Read More: The 20 Best-Directed TV Drama Series of the 21st Century, Ranked
The scene is just one of many iconic moments from the final season of one of television’s best series. Leder directed three of the final eight episodes and helmed every finale of the series, so to celebrate her impressive accomplishments, »
- Ben Travers
‘The Leftovers’ & ‘Fargo’ Star Carrie Coon Joins Steve McQueen’s ‘Widows’
Carrie Coon has made quite a name for herself on the small screen recently. Her roles in “Fargo” and “The Leftovers” are putting her in the Emmy discussion. Now, it seems, she’s ready to make that transition to the big screen, and she’s signed up for her next big film. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Coon will soon begin production on “Widows.”
“Widows” is based on the 1980’s British TV series about a group of armed robbers who are killed during a heist attempt.
- Charles Dean
‘Columbus’ Trailer: Discover Why This John Cho Drama Is One of the Great Indie Debuts of 2017
Kogonada is one of the most well known video essayists on the internet, but he’s about to become one of the best new voices in indie film. “Columbus,” which premiered to acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, is a hypnotic and intimate debut that’s bound to leave an impression on anyone who sees it.
Kogonada’s debut stars John Cho as Jin, a man who finds himself stranded in the titular Indiana town after his father falls gravely ill. It’s here where he strikes up a friendship with an architectural enthusiast (Haley Lu Richardson) struggling with her own parental issues. The pair spark a connection rooted in soul-searching.
Entertainment Weekly has debuted the official trailer for the movie, and to say it looks visually striking would be the understatement of the year. Working with cinematographer Elisha Christian, Kogonada draws your attention to architecture and blocking like a master filmmaker.
“Columbus” opens in select theaters August 4. Watch the trailer below.
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- Zack Sharf
‘Glow’: 30 Years After the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, the WWE and Others Are Still Figuring Out What to Do With Women
Netflix’s “Glow” arrives at a time when women who step inside the squared circle are taken much more seriously than they were 30 years ago.
The show re-creates the world of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, the campy all-female promotion whose 1980s heyday is fictionalized in the new series starring Alison Brie. Fittingly, its subject helped start that process three decades ago.
Last weekend’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view was emblematic of the current state of women’s wrestling in WWE, both in terms of how far it’s come and how much further it still has to go. On the one hand, it featured the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match (progress!), which guarantees the winner a championship match at the time of her choosing. On the other hand, it ended when a dude named James Ellsworth ascended the ladder and dropped the briefcase down »
- Michael Nordine
‘Star Wars’ and Lucasfilm Have Lost Their Sense of Humor, and Firing Lord and Miller is Only One Example
“Star Wars”: I find your lack of funny disturbing.
The space saga has always been infused with a healthy dose of humor – C-3Po and R2D2, after all, are essentially a droid vaudeville team. And it’s Han Solo who has always brought the most levity to the film series with his dry, caustic wit.
But the exit this week of Phil Lord and Chris Miller from the “Han Solo” movie is a reminder that the entire “Star Wars” franchise has been moving toward a much more dramatic realm for some time – taking itself a bit too seriously, and losing some of the mirth and joy that came from being a fan.
There’s plenty that Lucasfilm has done right since Disney acquired the company and Kathleen Kennedy took over as president in 2012. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ultimately pulled in $937 million at the box office, while “Rogue One” raked in $532 million — so it’s hard to second guess that kind of success.
But in the transition, “Star Wars” lost some of its willingness to poke fun at itself. Pre-Kennedy, Lucasfilm executives were game to participate in parodies – giving their blessings to satiric takes by both “Family Guy” and “Robot Chicken.”
The “Family Guy” episodes – “Blue Harvest,” “Something, Something, Something, Dark Side” and “It’s A Trap!” – were all retellings of the original “Star Wars” triliogy, but with the show’s characters (Stewie was Darth Vader, naturally). “Robot Chicken” produced three specials that included quick sketches taking on all sorts of characters, and even George Lucas.
Read More: ‘Star Wars’: The Han Solo Movie We Will Never Get to See
Both shows premiered these episodes between 2007 and 2010 – but there haven’t been any since then, even after the film franchise returned with “The Force Awakens.” (One source said “Family Guy” hasn’t asked since then, after George Lucas retired and the original films moved from 20th Century Fox to Disney when Lucasfilm was sold.)
Also put on hold: “Star Wars Detours,” which was produced by Stoopid Monkey – the team behind “Robot Chicken” (Seth Green and Matthew Senreich), with George Lucas’ blessing. Around two seasons were produced around the time Lucas sold the company – and now it’s still sitting in a vault somewhere, five years later. Here’s the trailer:
And then there’s the fate of a previously announced parody Darth Vader talk show produced by Disney-owned Maker Studios, “After Darth.” The irreverent digital shorts series was completely shot in 2015, but then shelved after Kennedy put down her foot.
“[She] heard Disney was making a comedy show and flipped out,” said one insider. “She said ‘Star Wars’ and comedy do not co-exist — it’s a drama. She shut down that show, and the ‘Robot Chicken’ [and ‘Family Guy’] stuff is now on moratorium. No more ‘Star Wars’ comedy.”
That insider said Kennedy also put a halt to “Star Wars” characters dancing at Disney theme parks: “Apparently they banned Darth Maul and Darth Vader from doing a breakdance battle in the Disney Parks,” said someone familiar with a meeting Lucasfilm execs had with Disney over proper use of the franchise.
But there does seem to be a bit of an exception to the humor rule in the children’s space, as the “Lego Star Wars” shows frequently contain humor, as do the mini books “Darth Vader and Son” and its spinoffs. (Lucasfilm has not responded to a request for comment.)
That’s not to say Lord and Miller were making “Han Solo” as a comedy. But as a source told Variety, Kennedy apparently wasn’t a fan of their shooting style – which, as IndieWire has noted, “tends to be freewheeling, collaborative, and open to improvisation.”
The duo have become experts at mixing a bit of absurdist, sometimes dark humor with true dramatic moments, in both their TV and film projects. That includes “The Lego Movie,” which was ultimately about a ragtag group of misfits who are destined, via prophecy, to forge a bond and fight evil – while also telling a story of an estranged father and son. (Wait, it sounds like they already did a “Star Wars” movie!)
Lord and Miller also deftly pulled off tragedy, pathos, drama, and humor with the pilot to Will Forte’s “The Last Man on Earth.” That DNA continued with last season’s “Son of Zorn” and “Making History,” two shows that they executive produced (but didn’t direct or write).
Like many of those characters, a young Han would presumably be even more cocky and self-assured – which is why Lord and Miller made plenty of sense to helm Lucasfilm’s “Han Solo” prequel. Ron Howard is a fine choice to replace the duo, but definitely leans toward the more dramatic, and earnest, side of things.
Take the lightheartedness out of “Star Wars,” and as a wise, old green Jedi Master once said, “Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.”
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- Michael Schneider
Netflix’s ‘Glow’ Shines After a Slow Start [Review]
Don’t judge “Glow” by its first episode. Or even the next two. The Netflix original series about the real-life “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” league spends its first three half-hours largely focused on its lead character, Ruth (Alison Brie). Though created by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, “Glow” is executive produced by Jenji Kohan and Tara Hermann.
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- Kimber Myers
Albert Maysles’ Last Film: Why ‘In Transit’ Has Been Kept Out of Theaters Since 2015
Albert Maysles never got to watch his last film with an audience, passing away just a month before “In Transit” premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, but simply completing the documentary marked the realization of a long-held dream. Maysles had wanted to shoot a film about passengers on a train for decades, but had trouble finding funding for a documentary whose subjects could only be discovered after shooting began.
Now, the film is finally released — but its future remains uncertain.
“In Transit” played at roughly a dozen film festivals and was being prepped by Al Jazeera America for a theatrical run with the help of sales agent Submarine Deluxe when Al Jazeera’s U.S. arm was abruptly shuttered in 2016, leaving the rights to the film in legal limbo. Part of the problem was that Al Jazeera had agreed to finance a 50-minute documentary for TV, not a feature film, so determining who had the rights to the feature-length version was a legal quandary.
The Maysles Documentary Center has been trying to purchase the rights to the documentary themselves, a more than two-year process that remains unresolved; in the meantime, they’ve been able to arrange for one-week runs at the organization’s own cinema and at New York’s Metrograph, starting on Friday. The team behind the film hopes to introduce the documentary to more audiences in the future, whether through traditional distribution or self-distribution.
These prolonged efforts are only the latest chapter in a project that, decades before its completion, had taken on a mythological quality. “People refer to it as his white whale,” said co-director Lynn True. “It just never came together for a lot of reasons, one being that it’s rather unwieldy just boarding a train and spontaneously meeting people and capturing their stories.”
In 2013, Maysles finally attracted the financial backing of Al Jazeera America, and with the help of co-directors True, David Usui, Nelson Walker and Ben Wu, began interviewing passengers on on Amtrak’s Empire Builder, the busiest long-distance train route in America, which makes the three-day trip between Seattle and Chicago.
The movie marked the first original production of the Harlem-based Maysles Documentary Center, which has its own 55-seat cinema. That wound up working in its favor — the original contract with Al Jazeera included the right to screen the film at the theater that carried the director’s name, so “In Transit” was always destined to show in at least one theater. (The Metrograph screenings were set up in negotiation between the theater and the film’s producers, not Al Jazeera, which is unaffiliated with the release; the producers declined to comment on the arrangement with the broadcaster, and Al Jazeera did not return requests for comment.)
Shot in the tradition of Direct Cinema, the documentary is made up of a series of interconnected vignettes, where passengers share their fears, hopes and dreams, or simply let the filmmakers capture conversations with friends, family and new acquaintances on the train.
“We just had to board the train cross our fingers that we would find interesting people who would let us film them,” said True. As she and the other filmmakers soon discovered, the simple act of asking where someone is going could be all it took to stumble upon fascinating documentary subjects. The “characters” in the film range from a young woman who opened up about being raised by crackheads to an elderly woman who had just visited a daughter she gave up for adoption 47 years earlier.
Shot during the height of the U.S. oil boom, the filmmakers frequently found workers traveling to and from the oil fields in North Dakota, or wives and partners of these workers, most of whom talked about the challenges of being away from loved ones for extended periods of time.
One of the central figures of the documentary is a pregnant passenger who was already passed her due date upon boarding the train, creating a uniquely stressful situation for the Amtrak crew, which had to monitor her on a daily basis and became something like an extended family. “That was just documentary magic,” said True.
Though Maysles had no way of knowing whether his decades-long ambition of shooting passengers on a train would lead to footage that could be edited into a compelling narrative, he was always drawn to how trains could bring strangers together, according to True. “He loved trains because of this unique ability they had to kind of support these unlikely friendships and interactions,” she said. “It was pretty interesting to me how many of the stories played into Albert’s vision so precisely — this idea that trains afford strangers the opportunity to connect in a way that they wouldn’t necessarily if they were just passing on the street.”
During segments in which single individuals speak directly to the camera, “In Transit” reveals that, regardless of age, gender or background, most people have a natural inclination to show their own vulnerability. “If you give people the chance to really be honest, people are so much more similar than we all give them credit for,” True said.
One of the key components to Maysles approach to documentary filmmaking was to avoid entering any situation with preconceived ideas or any sort of end goal. “He was such a proponent of observing quietly and listening and allowing stories to unfold on their own terms and follow things wherever they led,” True said.
According to Maysles’ daughter Rebekah Maysles, who served as a producer on his 2014 documentary “Iris,” about fashion icon Iris Apfel, one of her father’s original ideas for the film was to follow passengers off the train and continue shooting footage in their homes. As with most of his documentaries, however, formulating a strict plan was not part of the equation. “He didn’t really prepare himself at all,” she said. “I think it worked.”
Read More: Film Community Pays Tribute to Albert Maysles
Maysles wasn’t around to celebrate when “In Transit” won a special mention in the documentary feature category at Tribeca, but more important to Rebekah Maysles was her father’s reaction to seeing the finished film. “He loved it,” she said.
“In Transit” opens Friday, June 23 at the Metrograph and Maysles Documentary Center.
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- Graham Winfrey
‘Portlandia’: Carrie Brownstein on Directing, Men’s Rights and Her 5 Favorite Sketches of Season 7
“Portlandia” remains one of television’s most oddball series, committed both to the craft of filmmaking as well as the absurdist notions of executive producers Carrie Brownstein, Fred Armisen and Jonathan Krisel. The show has always been a labor of love for its creators, one in which they’ve been involved intimately since the beginning. Brownstein in particular stepped up for Season 7, directing two episodes for the first time, in addition to writing and acting.
Before IndieWire got on the phone with Brownstein, she sent over a list of her five favorite sketches, two of which were part of episodes she directed. We discussed what went into the making of each episode, with Brownstein revealing why she prefers not to be in sketches she’s directing, the surprising depth of empathy she has for the characters she plays (even the Men’s Rights Activist) and how she didn’t mind the way in which one of her favorite sketches overlapped with a recent episode of “Black Mirror.”
Hotel Room Explanation, “The Storytellers” (Episode 1)
“I think we always relish having someone with the nimbleness of Vanessa on the show. We’ve been so fortunate to work with some of the best improvisers and comedians around them. Vanessa is one of those really brilliant performers — she and Fred have an innate chemistry together from being friends in real life and working together on ‘Saturday Night Live.’
“When I’m directing, I really enjoy not being in the scene — that allows me to really focus on performances and composition. You know, see it from a more holistic perspective. It was an incredible joy to watch them in that scene.”
How much footage did they actually shoot? “We could have made a six-part television series just from the footage we had. We really like the simple set-ups, because it allows more time for performance. When the sketches are more location-based or require more technical camerawork or choreography, the performers don’t get to delve as intensely into the scene and there’s not as much room for tangents or improvisation. But in a situation like this, we are basically just setting up the cameras and letting these people explore these characters and explore the scene.”
What About Men?, “Carrie Dates a Hunk” (Episode 2)
Men’s rights activists Drew (Armisen) and Andy (Brownstein) sing a ballad protesting their oppressed status as straight white men. Director: Jonathan Krisel.
“A big thing of the season was this notion of masculinity and gender. I think they were two themes that we explored in a variety of permutations. And we were thinking a lot about people who come into this world assuming a certain amount of privilege and inheritance and cultural relevance, and seeing themselves as the center of a narrative that’s kind of been written for them throughout history.
“There are these two guys who suddenly don’t see themselves in a society that’s slowly changing — the dismantling of the binary, moving towards an examination of the patriarchy. So we wanted to have these characters who felt a fragility within that environment and were lashing out against it. So they kind of came into fruition last year because we wanted to explore some of those themes.
On the casting of the video’s extras, who perfectly embody who you might expect to identify as a Mra: “We very explicitly want very real people. We’re not casting for good looks, we’re casting for people who are interesting in their authentic selves and embrace the kind of weirdness we want from them.
“We have an amazing casting director who is local and he really has an acumen for pulling from the local pool of talent. Simon Max Hill is wonderful and we have an extras casting guy, Adam Rosko, who is also great. We really rely on them for filling out the world of the show and yeah, that video is a good example of really nailing our requests.”
That said, they don’t think of the casting in terms of stereotypes. “I think you start getting into trouble when you start to assume what [an Mra] looks like. I think when we were talking about those sketches in general, we were realizing through anecdotal evidence that a lot of the men in our lives were also feeling vulnerable, sort of as if they were willing to admit it because culturally we are shifting away from perhaps white straight male dominance. It wasn’t just the alt-right guys online, it was people we knew, who were just having to reconsider their own lives and position.”
Massage Chair, “Fred’s Cell Phone Company” (Episode 3)
Lance (Brownstein) gets trapped in a massage chair purchased for him by Nina (Armisen). Director: Carrie Brownstein.
Was acting from a confined position easy or tough? “It means focusing the faculties you have with which to communicate, creating a whole language with tics and your eyes. Those of us who are able-bodied are able to compensate for nuance and misunderstandings with our hands and with our body language. So it does become a different kind of communication tool, when you don’t use your entire body.
“I had already mapped out Lance’s Pov, combining a ‘Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ or a ‘Misery’ kind of aesthetic. There was a little bit of a challenge to direct, because I was limited to this one sphere and I didn’t have as much of a sense of the scene, because I was stuck in one single place.”
Men’s Film Festival, “Friend Replacement” (Episode 6)
Men’s rights activists Drew and Andy return to host a festival celebrating the under-recognized achievements of men in film. Director: Jonathan Krisel.
On playing two different characters who happen to be men: “They are two very different characters, so I approach them differently. I don’t want them to be a caricature. Lance is of course a broader character and we try to focus on a little more on his fallibility and vulnerability… I don’t really approach it too much from a gender perspective. It’s just, ‘Who is this person and how much can I say about his humor?’
“We had a lot of fun writing that sketch and just coming up with alternatives for film titles that they wanted to see or remakes that they were afraid of. It was interesting in the wake of the ‘Wonder Woman’ release and all of the screenings that happened — just seeing the backlash against that.”
What other filmmakers were mentioned in alternate takes? “I think Barry Levinson, there might have been a little bit more Michael Bay. There was a shoutout to Anthony Scalia, the former Supreme Court judge there.”
Why so much mention of Kathryn Bigelow? “For so long, she was the go-to female director — like, no one could conjure another name. So we were sort of playing with that.”
Passenger Rating Pt. 1, “Passenger Rating” (Episode 9)
Carrie (Brownstein) is having trouble with her rating on a ride sharing service. Director: Steve Buscemi.
“This one stems partially from that feeling that the sharing economy or the gig economy requires a certain level of performance. We were just thinking about how that can really become awkward.”
How it relates to the “Black Mirror” episode “Nosedive,” starring Bryce Dallas Howard: “That ‘Black Mirror’ episode came out after we had filmed ours, but we hadn’t aired yet. It was really interesting to watch — there was only a couple of degrees of separation between the two, and both explore something so simple and innocent-seeming as a rating system, a desire to be liked. That need for likability can turn dark. Ours explores the same themes, without the sort of craziness of that show. But I am such a big fan of ‘Black Mirror.'”
What to Expect from Season 8
As of writing, production has begun on the final season of “Portlandia.” “We’re going into a season where the theme is, not surprisingly, anxiety. There’s an anxiety and sense of isolation that permeates a lot of the sketches this year, all through the absurdist lens of the show. But as we sat back and looked at the board in the writers’ room, we realized living in a state of constant uncertainty had really permeated the show.”
How does that connect to this being the last season? “I think in some ways it’s coincidental, but in some ways it helps our cause, because as we wind down we didn’t want to make any sort of big, sweeping statements. But there’s definitely an onus. People expect closure.”
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- Liz Shannon Miller
First Trailer For ‘The Incredible Jessica James’ Introduces A Force Of Nature
There are not shortage of films about navigating the complicated, contemporary world of dating and romance, but few of them are coming with kind of lead turn that “The Daily Show” correspondent Jessica Williams provides in “The Incredible Jessica James.” She’s the charismatic heart of what looks to be an amusing look at modern love.
Directed by Jim Strouse (“Grace Is Gone,” “People Places Things“), and co-starring Chris O’Dowd, Lakeith Stanfield, and Noël Wells, the film follows a young woman getting over a breakup who falls into an unlikely romance.
Continue reading First Trailer For ‘The Incredible Jessica James’ Introduces A Force Of Nature at The Playlist. »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Sofia Coppola: The Specific Touch of Femininity
The Virgin SuicidesIn 2015, three significant films were released: Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang, Mélanie Laurent’s Breathe and Céline Sciamma Girlhood. All three are female stories devoid of the faux candor associated with many male-directed ‘women’s stories.’ There is an astonishing amount of authenticity in these wildly different films, each playing with explorations of the teenage girl psyche with wildly differing results. In Mustang, we met girls whose spirits could never be broken, no matter the odds or imprisonments they faced, from societal to literal, when they’re confined in their home. In Girlhood, we learned these imprisonments could be as psychological and socially constructed as the physical bars placed on their windows in Ergüven’s feature. And in Laurent’s psycho-drama, we face the realities and interplay of teenage cruelty and intimacy found in female friendships in that developmental stage. These films aren’t playing to strictly a female audience, but they feel refreshingly tailor-made to do so. They’re offering up honest and raw depictions of girlhood and femininity on the creative landscape and it was often beautiful, sometimes tragic and all together worth celebrating. It’s something that filmmaker Sofia Coppola has been doing her entire career, and her latest release, the remake of The Beguiled, drives home this point further.Over the course of her career Coppola has developed a distinctive approach to her filmmaking. Her distinct style utilizes—and nearly favors—visuals as a means of storytelling (I’d argue she could tell the same stories in silence with her visual finesse). Along the way she’s also developed an unabashed feminine perspective that, combined with her eye for stylish filmmaking, has set her apart from her male contemporaries. She isn’t just telling stories about women but imbuing them with a sense of femininity.It starts with color, building a point of view from a vibrant palette and the way in which the cinematography capture each female character. A common complaint in current cinema—particularly in blockbusters and tentpole films—has been the gray color grading. Movies that should pop ultimately end up blending in with their background. Coppola defies this expectation, relishing in the pinks of the hats Marie Antoinette or in Scarlett Johansson’s wig in Lost in Translation. She finds color in the yellows of the kitchen in Somewhere—the sunlight radiating through the shades covering a window—or in the baby blues of the sky whizzing past Antoinette. We see the blues that swallow Elle Fanning whole in Somewhere as she hosts a tea party beneath the surface of a pool. She utilizes stark whites in Antoinette's lavish, daisy-infested fields and the sun-bleached morning-after in The Virgin Suicides. Her color palette is distinctive and gives her films a fantastical atmosphere, adding to their unabashed femininity. Her colors aren’t loud and vibrant or muted and hollow, serving as much of a purpose as her storytelling.Her films’ image subvert the male gaze by never allowing the female characters to be exploited as they view her cinematic universe instead through a female friendly lens. We watch the sisters of The Virgin Suicides from afar, sure, and Johansson is sometimes looked at through the eyes of Bill Murray, but more often than not we’re given looks into the worlds of female characters born into male-dominated spaces. Their inclusion is worthy of curiosity, judgement, disdain or damaging admiration. As Roger Ebert once said in a review for Marie Antoinette:“This is Sofia Coppola’s third film centering on the loneliness of being female and surrounded by a world that knows how to use you but not how to value and understand you. [...] Every criticism I have read of this film would alter its fragile magic and reduce its romantic and tragic poignancy to the level of an instructional film. ”When we meet most of Coppola’s delicate, youthful characters in moments of severe isolation—be it on a lonesome carriage ride through a foggy morning, alone in an expansive hotel room meant for two, or in a household where rules are inflicted to keep its inhabitants sheltered and painfully lonely. From The Virgin Suicides to this year's The Beguiled, Coppola has depicted isolation as one of her major themes, approached particularly through the specific point of view.The femininity comes from Coppola’s understanding of these women beyond their psychological or physical cages. So often in films about women, the female characters exist without any sense of female identity; they’re simply judged on their actions, their features or what a wider audience can relate to. Movies about weddings, having children and being mothers and girlfriends play on tropes of what it means “to be a woman” without exploring what it means to be a woman. Coppola, typically working from a place of interested in adolescents mature beyond their years, shows rather than tells us aspects of being a woman through all historical settings and walks of life. Throughout much of cinema’s mainstream history we’ve been told just exactly what it means “to be a man,” definitions that may have changed throughout the decades but have still been firmly covered in a layer of masculine attitude. We have films that dedicate their stories from a male character's birth to their death, detailing the ins and outs of what makes that particular guy tic. For women that sort of nuance through different time periods is much more difficult to come across, and it’s why voices such as Coppola’s are so poignant; they reach and grab hold of those looking for stories they can relate to, that mirror who they are or were in certain periods of their lives. (Until this point, she has had little to no diversity in her films and is mainly showcasing white femininity. Hopefully this is something she’ll change in the future.)All of this makes her directing The Beguiled remake so fascinating. Originally filmed by Don Siegel, adapted from Thomas P. Cullinan’s novel, and starring Clint Eastwood as Corporal John ‘McBee’ McBurney, this is a man’s story: after being wounded during the Civil War, McBurney is taken in by a Southern all-girls boarding school. The female characters are more sinister and less sympathetic. In Coppola’s version there are similar tropes of the mighty headmistress and the school’s young seductress, but yet again, we’re given these depictions through the female point of view; these women have increased agency as we see the story unfold from their worldview. As is the case with The Virgin Suicides, the girls of the boarding house are kept inside and isolated for their own safety, making them curious about and isolated from the outside world. Like with Marie Antoinette, it’s women living amidst the mess men have made, thrown into a society that has displaced them. Coppola’s themes are undoubtedly recurring, flexible and timeless enough to be able to encompass all walks of life that women can identify with, spread wide across history.Coppola’s films are full to the brim with unabashed and gleeful femininity. It’s shown in the way Fanning's role of the daughter in Somewhere is polished and poised, showcasing the wisdom girls possess from a young age as she helps her father (Stephen Dorff) out of his jaded shell. It’s in the naiveté of the sisters of The Virgin Suicides, but also in their world weariness in the face of boyish neighbors who take interest in the reclusive girls. Coppola dismantles the idea of depicting mysterious and shielded women as enigmas rather than humans. We see it in casual shots of modern Converse shoes scattered amongst decadent heels in Marie Antoinette, or in its titular character enjoying the pleasures of sex at her own pace. It is in Johansson’s unyielding gaze and youthful yearning in Lost in Translation and hell, even Emma Watson’s self-absorption in The Bling Ring. To be a female character in Coppola’s film is more than presenting a gender or a trope but instead the director makes the “radical” decision to depict women in all of their grace, kindness, misery and determination in ways that feel very honest. »
Studio Ghibli’s American Distributor Is Launching a New Festival That Could Change Animation in America
Our weekly Film Festival Roundup column explores notable stories and news updates from the circuit. Check out last week’s Roundup right here.
Producer and distributor Gkids has a big idea for the animated world, best expressed in three little words: Animation Is Film. It’s both a philosophy and the name of a newly announced festival cooked by the company best known for bringing animated offerings from Studio Ghibli and other rising stars (think “My Life as a Zucchini” and “My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea”) to domestic screens. Gkids will launch the festival this October in partnership with both France’s own Annecy International Animation Film Festival and IndieWire’s sister publication, Variety.
Envisioned as an annual event, the inaugural edition of the festival will run October 20 – 22 at the Tcl Chinese 6 Theater in Hollywood (better known to most as Mann’s Chinese Theater), complete with a showcase of 20 programs that includes feature films in competition, special presentations, retrospectives and short film programs.
Animation Is Film has been designed with a very specific goal in mind, to bring a world-class animation festival to the U.S. which, unlike Europe and Asia, is severely lacking when it comes to such annual offerings. Other countries boast animation-centric festivals like Annecy, Montreal’s Stop Motion Festival, the Ottawa International Film Festival, and the Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival, but the U.S. doesn’t have such large-scale events, instead festivals often screen animated films as part of other sections. Animation Is Film hopes to fill that gap and provide a new space for larger audiences to enjoy animated films in every form.
Read More: Gkids Supercut Pays Tribute to the Indie Animated Film Distributor — Watch
But while the festival’s most obvious aim is to bring high-quality animated offerings to North America via a splashy new event, its official mission reveals that the fest is also focused on exploring other needs in the industry, including an emphasis on supporting female filmmakers and other underrepresented groups. Animation Is Film doesn’t just want to screen the best in animation to its audience, it also wants to highlight and explore up-and-coming talents, new styles of work, and push past traditional ideas of the very medium itself.
Animation Is Film is built around five core missions, including “presenting a highly selective, annual showcase of the best new works of animation from around the world,” though it will also “champion and support filmmakers who use animation to pursue unique cinematic visions and who are unconstrained by conventional notions of what animation is capable of.” And those filmmakers? Aif hopes they can represent all sorts of creators, from female filmmakers to “filmmakers from a wide range of cultural, economic, and national backgrounds.”
In an official statement, Gkids Founder and CEO Eric Beckman commented, “Creating a stateside film festival that recognizes the highest aspirations of animation as a cinematic art form has long been a dream of Gkids. We are thrilled…[to] bring exceptional animated filmmaking from around the world to audiences.”
Check out the rest of our weekly Film Festival Roundup on the next page.
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- Kate Erbland
Studios Are Right: Rotten Tomatoes Has Ruined Film Criticism — Opinion
The last few weeks have been a coronation for Rotten Tomatoes, the 19-year-old review aggregation site owned by Fandango. Faced with would-be blockbusters that received a collective shrug from the audience, studios have been shaking their fists at what they view as Rt’s undeserved and unchecked power. The latest would-be victim is Paramount’s “Transformers: The Last Knight,” which sits at a 16% Rt rating and current estimates have the film’s five-day opening weekend at $60 million domestic — a record-breaking low for a franchise that’s accustomed to $100 million or more.
However, Rt’s corporate parents must be thrilled: They own a property that’s poised to replace the star system and has already become the shorthand for critical response. No wonder it engenders fear and loathing from Hollywood’s most powerful players.
And in the six and a half years I’ve reported box office analysis, my policy has remained unchanged: I don’t mention them. I have no issue with review aggregation, but I do have serious objections to their methodology, their degradation of the critical process, and how they communicate their ratings. Those aren’t the same reasons that studios (occasionally) might wish them dead, but the studios and I are united in our belief that Rotten Tomatoes is a negative force for film.
When the site launched in 1998, the concept of reducing reviews to positive/negative was already familiar. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert began using the system as part of their popular TV partnership that began in 1975 on a local Chicago station and eventually went nationwide with the Disney-syndicated “Siskel & Ebert.” Of course, the centerpiece of their show wasn’t their thumbs; it was the passionate discussion that preceded their up/down judgments.
Siskel and Ebert were part of a critical continuum that presumed readers came with their own intellectual curiosities about the work being discussed. Today, that’s turned on its head as the overwhelming majority of movie reviews used by readers as a simple buying guide — and with the audience rallying cry of “no spoilers,” the less said about the movie, the better.
Rotten Tomatoes has taken that proposition to its most reductive point, providing only two understandings of a film (three, if you count the “certified fresh” subset). There’s no allowance for isolating a strong performance, or for recognizing a strong element within a flawed film. It reduces criticism to judgment and attitude without discernment.
The methodology tips toward the negative, with films requiring 60 percent or more positive reviews to avoid being labeled “rotten.” The site’s name comes from the legend that in the 19th century, rowdy theater and music-hall crowds would show disfavor by throwing spoiled vegetables at the stage. It reflects an attitude of cheering for failure — a film isn’t good or bad, but “rotten” or “fresh” depending on the percentage of unfavorable to favorable reviews. And there’s an audience for negativity.
Read More: Rotten Tomatoes Is ‘The Destruction of Our Business,’ Says Producer/Director Brett Ratner
Rt includes reviews from hundreds of critics, with print and broadcast critics requiring two years of employment as a critic at an approved outlet; online critics need a minimum of 100 reviews over two years at a single publication that receives at least 500,000 visitors a month. While those are valid standards, it also includes an array of reviewers with limited audiences and variable expertise. The internet age created an explosion of people writing about movies, often without journalistic or cinematic education. But on Rt, all opinions are created equal. (There is a “Top Critics” subsection, although it receives little attention in media or the films’ marketing.)
Next page: Why Rotten Tomatoes may have destroyed 50% of the “Transformers” franchise value.
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- Tom Brueggemann
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